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Poster: light into ashes Date: Feb 1, 2011 4:44am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Keith

I think it's understandable why they'd stay in that self-destructive relationship...it's not that uncommon. He was wasted, she was drunk, they fought all the time....true Sid & Nancy-style love!
John Kahn said that in late '78, "Jerry caught Keith stealing something inside his briefcase; his drugs or something... Keith would burn me and Jerry out of drugs all the time." So that was Keith's state of mind.
What's less understandable is why the band clung onto them for so long, without even asking them to take a break or anything (that we know of). That's more of a mystery. But, after all, this is a band that already had a lot of experience with self-destructive drug abusers in its ranks; Phil suggests they mainly just ignored it.

Donna later tried to explain her behavior:
"It wasn't the Grateful Dead. It's what success does to your self-image, what it does to the human spirit. It's destructive, and some people can handle it and some can't. The point is, you're out there so long before people who adore you...and you realize you can't live up to their image, so you're in a very strange position. And I'm not even Jerry... And I know the effect it had on him."

But Keith & Donna did stay together, and apparently had a happy life after they left the Dead. She said Keith became healthy from being an absolute wreck, and they played in another band together during his last year. It seems they became more peaceful & reconciled. As she said, "In a way though, we did pretty well: after ten years we were still in love and still married."
So, relatively happy ending, except that he died. After that, she became a born-again Christian.

This post was modified by light into ashes on 2011-02-01 12:44:17

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Poster: Diamondhead Date: Feb 1, 2011 10:40am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Keith

Thanks for all the history. It's a sad story, but at least Donna seems to have written a better ending. One nevers knows how the book will be written.

I always wondered if he got tired of the band's musical direction after 1976. He was a jazzy, boogie-woogie sort of guy, and after the retirement, the music seemed to shift and speed up a lot and didn't seem to leave as much room for him. Eyes, LiG, Dancin' come to mind.

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Poster: elbow1126 Date: Feb 1, 2011 9:02am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Keith

"What's less understandable is why the band clung onto them for so long, without even asking them to take a break or anything (that we know of). That's more of a mystery."

Do you think there was any evidence of this onstage in 1977? I suspect that for the band it was the onstage issues that pushed things over the edge and they don't become a real issue until '78 and not really until the second half. Its not like the other band members weren't abusing drugs at that time as well (he was stealing Jerry and Kahn's stash!!) so it would have been a bit hypocritical to kick them out of the band for drug abuse as long as the performance was not suffering. I guess i don't think the band felt like they were clinging onto to them until the last 6 months.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Feb 1, 2011 12:40pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Keith

I think it was a gradual decline....behavior that might have been annoying at first became unendurable over the course of '78.
Inertia carried the band along (as it often did), and of course none of them wanted to be "cops". Better to sweep things under the rug & hope they cleared up over time. Rational, sober discussion & decision-making was not the band's strong-point! They had dropped Pigpen and TC in the past, so dropping Keith would not have been a radical step, and they were virtually playing without him anyway...but I'm sure nobody wanted to confront the issue.

How early the band did think of dumping Keith, I don't think anyone knows. John Kahn suggested that the JGB folded in Nov '78 because Garcia had had it with Keith, but I'm not sure he's right about that.